Paragon Center

The Paragon Center, an 80,000 square foot office condominium complex in Allentown, Pennsylvania, has set new standards on efficiency and environmental consciousness by using innovative technologies, surpassing the most demanding requirements of facilities of its kind.

In keeping with the efficiency and environmental sensitivity of the design objectives, the developers chose a geothermal heat pump system for heating and cooling. After initial system analysis and project review, the original design called for a 100 percent ground-coupled system with a building cooling load of 200 tons.

The originally designed loop field was to have consisted of 1.25 inch polyethylene loops installed in 55 bores each 480 feet deep. During the drilling phase of the well field construction, limestone on the site caused the team to regroup and redesign the geothermal system. The revised well field of 88 bores drilled 125 feet deep could transfer enough heat to satisfy the heating load and a portion of the peak cooling load. The resulting hybrid ground cold-water-source heat pump system is supplemented with a closed-circuit fluid cooler to handle the summer peak load. The geothermal loop will handle 80 percent of the total cooling hours of the building. The cooling tower is only needed for 20 percent of the cooling hours.

Preston L. Roberts, Pennsylvania Power & Light Company:
"The Paragon Center was one of the first large commercial applications in PP&L's service area and some of the obstacles that we encountered were the fact that most customers, most building owners, and most design professionals in our service area aren't familiar with the technology. So there was a lot of education to get them to understand what the technology is about, what the benefits are, and to give them some confidence that this can be done in an economical fashion. At the same time, the owners are concerned about the operating costs being economical and certainly I think that those were the largest hurdles we had to overcome. They are all based on educating the customer.

The other obstacles that we faced were finding people who were qualified to install the geothermal system for the building. So getting people who are trained, qualified, knew what they were doing, knew what kinds of problems they might encounter in doing the installation was a secondary problem. Certainly it was not as difficult to solve, but an obstacle, none the less. Our philosophy is that these technologies, to be successful commercially, need to be able to be economically justified under their own merits and not be reliant upon, or dependent upon, grants and other forms of financial incentive to make them economically viable."

Don Fredwick, The Fredwick Group:
"We put in glass that is lightly tinted, but has an argon gas between the panes, again, energy conscious. We did the same thing with insulation. We worked very closely with PP&L in regard to how we were insulating the building. We did the same thing with lighting. We have in all common areas, lights that are based on motion sensors. If there isn't someone walking around, the only thing that is on is emergency light. Other than that, the lights don't go on unless someone actually walks in the building and needs to have a light."